Veterans Business Resources

a portal for all Veterans and SDV Small Business Owners

Public Enemies and the Process

Several weeks ago, as my bride and I were having an in-home movie night, we decided to order and watch a movie together verses watching a DVD or going out to rent a movie.  She was driving (had the remote control) and going through the channels rather quickly.  We saw and previewed what promised to be an exciting movie.  The movie was Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.  Johnny Depp was of course cast in the lead role as John Dillinger, the notorious gangster and bank robber of the mid 1930s and 1940s. 

I will not tell the story of the movie, as perhaps some people haven’t seen it yet and don’t want their viewing of the movie ruined by knowing the story before actually seeing it.  A little side bar here – don’t you just hate it when someone tells you the whole movie story before you’ve had a chance to see it yourself?  Me too!  To me, one of the most powerful and important parts of the movie is during a scene when Dillinger is being escorted to jail and all the reporters and cameras are all around him.  The police stop their march to the jail to allow the reporters a chance to interview the notorious John Dillinger.  One reporter asks him the million dollar question – how long does it take him to rob a bank?  The bold, confident and charismatic Dillinger smiles and responds – “I can be in and out of a bank in 1 minute and 40 seconds, flat!”  One minute and forty seconds, flat!  What?!  That’s ridiculous!  No way!  How on earth can he do that?  There may have been some of Hollywood’s creative and dramatic flair in that statement to add more excitement to the movie, but I imagine the real John Dillinger knew exactly how long it took him to rob a bank too.  He had to. 

John Dillinger knew how long it took him to rob a bank because he had a process and he followed the process each and every time he robbed a bank.  I imagine that Dillinger practiced and refined his process many, many times before he ever set foot in a bank, gun in hand and intent on robbing it.  I imagine that he took into account as many different variables as possible and war-gamed many different scenarios before knowing for sure that it took him exactly 1 minute and 40 seconds, flat, to rob a bank. 

Identifying the steps in the process and following them each and every time out is important, when, and this is critically important, that process leads to success.  Identify and document the process that leads to success for you.  Practice it and refine it, get better and better until you’re the go to person for whatever it is you do.  When you have practiced and refined your process for success, you want to repeat it over and over and over again.  It is equally important to know why we fail or succeed.  The processes you develop as we go along are all part of the BASICS.  Everything starts with the basics.  I believe that we can never truly get better at anything until we first master the basics.  We will learn and master the basics of Government Contracting together. 

See you on the high ground!              

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Filed under: Getting Started

Verification NOT Certification

I mentioned this in an earlier post and many of you already know that there is not a Veteran certification.  There is only a verification of ones Veteran status as the 51% owner(s) of a business concern.  This process of verification is currently managed by the Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE), which is part of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).  This verification process is required by Public Law 109-461 which also establishes unique procurement authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

We must self identify; all Veteran Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) need to register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the Dynamic Small Business (DSB), Online Representations and Certifications (ORCA) and the Vendor Information Pages (VIP) databases.  Currently, only one VOSB per Veteran or per Veteran ownership group can receive the CVE verification seal, but multiple VOSBs per Veteran or per Veteran ownership group can be registered in the VIP database without the verification seal.  That particular issue has generated a considerable amount of discussion and dissatisfaction among many in our community.  I will keep you posted as we sort through the particulars. 

Due in part to the tremendous volume of businesses registering with the VIP and applying for verification, the actual verification timeline is quite extensive (4 to 6 months).  Another factor contributing to lengthy verification times is significant under staffing at the CVE.  In addition, businesses are required to re-verify their status each year so peak season at the CVE is year round.  The process isn’t perfect, but it’s the best one we have right now. 

As mentioned earlier, PL 109-461 established unique procurement authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs.  That PL gave the VA the right to establish its own contracting goals (which are much higher than any other agency in the federal government) and it allowed the VA to determine the contracting priority within the VA.  Essentially, the VA has established the “Order of Merit List” for contracting as Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) first and Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) second.  A move designed to benefit legitimate, honest and patriotic Veterans has proven entirely too tempting for some and resulted in wide-spread fraud, abuse and corruption in our program.  You can read more about these stories in the Fraud, Waste and Abuse section under the Discussions Board. 

Do not think for one second that our program is the only one in the federal government with fraud, abuse and corruption.  Far from it, I dare say that every federal contracting program is infected with unscrupulous, corrupt, power and money hungry individuals determined to exploit federal contracting programs and people to serve their selfish purposes.  The VBR is designed in part to give us the information and knowledge to understand how the process works and how to leverage the same to the benefit of our community and our families.  Tell your Veteran friends about the VBR, its vision and its mission.  Tell them they need to “like” the page and learn how to make Government Contracting work for them too!

See you on the high ground!             

 

Filed under: Getting Started, Government Contracting, Registrations & Certifications, Veterans Affairs, ,

“Just the Facts, Please”

There was a TV series in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s called Dragnet.  The star of that series was named Jack Webb.  Jack skillfully and masterfully played the role of Detective Joe Friday.  Detective Friday is famous still today for his awesome one liners.  Among one liners, none is more famous than his “Just the facts, please.”  When questioning witnesses or interviewing suspects, Joe would always have occasion to remind them, “Just the facts, please.”  

When we’re asked, “So, what do you do?”  We want to respond with “just the facts, please.”  We want to tell the person asking that question exactly what we do and nothing more.  (Silence is our friend).  When we say what we do in such a powerful, impassioned and intriguing way, they can’t help but follow up with, “Really, tell me more.”  A friend and the authority on Networking and Marketing, Ms. Julia Hubbel, President, The Hubbel Group, Inc. says that “our unique value proposition should be 7 words long, plus or minus 2 words and capable of being delivered in 7 seconds.”  Actually, this unique value proposition of 7 words buys us the right to offer our 20 – 30 second Elevator Pitch.  

In the world of Network Marketing, we just qualified our prospective client.  If they did not respond favorably to our unique value proposition, there is little need to follow up with the Elevator Pitch.  WHY?  To understand “Why,” let’s start with a critical self examination.  What did we say?  How did we say it?  Did we say too much?  Were we confident, precise and succinct in our delivery?  Were we nervous?  Were we professionally dressed and look like we meant business?  Where did we approach our prospect?  Did we disturb them?  These are just some of the questions we might ask ourselves.  

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, called it the “Man in the Mirror.”  Whatever we call it, we must first look at ourselves for the answers when we don’t perform to standard or things don’t turn out the way we wanted them to.  We are in control of the situation and ultimately responsible for what we can influence.  We can control and influence how well we deliver our facts.  Now, is there really any need to analyze the prospect’s disposition?  If we accept that we are in control of the situation and have influence over the engagement, I think NOT.  

We just concluded from our brief experience that we need more practice.  What we said was not as powerful as we originally thought.  Our delivery was not as smooth and polished as we may have been lead to believe.  Today was not our day.  Time to back off, analyze the experience, learn from it, regroup and move out smartly.  We still are not convinced that our approach is completely wrong, but we know we still need more practice delivering “Just the facts, please.” 

See you on the high ground!  

 

Filed under: Getting Started

Watch Your Lane

“Clear on the left?  The left is clear!  Clear on the right?  The right is clear!  Firers take up a good prone supported firing position and “WATCH YOUR LANE.”  These are part of the commands coming from the tower at any M16 qualification range anywhere in the world when the range is HOT and service members are conducting a live fire.  

When we’re engaged in pursuit of a contracting opportunity, we’re on a HOT range.  Just as there are rules to follow and obey on a HOT range, there are rules to follow and obey when in pursuit of contracting opportunities.  These rules are made up of the individual processes we’ve developed and established for our respective businesses.  We already have a good idea what we’re doing and have been working to refine our processes for quite a while now.  This is not the time to become distracted by the activity in someone else’s lane.  This is time to “Watch Your Lane.” 

There will always be people more successful than you, even if you start on a path or journey at the exact same time.  Likewise, there will also always be people less successful than you, even if you started on your journey at the exact same time.  Don’t worry about other people’s success or failure.  What is meant for them is meant for them.  Just continue to rock steady and “Watch Your Lane” so you can see what is or is not happening, determine the reason why and take the appropriate corrective action to fix it. 

On the firing range, when service members don’t watch their lane, they miss their targets when they pop up and present themselves for engagement.  When service members don’t watch their lane, they engage their neighbor’s targets.  When service members don’t watch their lane, they potentially create unsafe acts on the range that could get the entire range shut down.  When you don’t “watch your lane,” you loose focus and take your eye off the prize, which can easily result in your business getting off track, stalling or worse still, coming to a complete stop.  The time will surely come when we have progressed and grown our businesses to the point that we can effectively reach back and help other less business savvy Veteran business owners “watch their lane.”  Until then, always, always continue to “Watch Your Lane.”

See you on the high ground!    

Filed under: Getting Started